With 4 billion worldwide followers, soccer is the world’s most popular sport. Players like Cristiano Ronaldo are some of the most popular stars on the planet and have become icons as well as athletes. One of the most heated “rivalries” in professional soccer today is between Argentinian Lionel Messi and Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo.
However, this rivalry is nothing more than speculation by fans and the media. The reason for this conjecture is because Messi and Ronaldo play for two of the largest and most prestigious soccer clubs in the world: FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF, respectively. Messi plays for Argentina, historically one of the best national teams while Ronaldo plays for Portugal, another top national team. Argentina is currently ranked as third in the world while Portugal is ranked as fourth. Furthermore, Messi is sponsored by Adidas while Ronaldo is sponsored by Adidas’s competitor, Nike. Ronaldo is the highest paid athlete in the world, earning $88 million. Messi comes in third, earning $81.4 million.
Another reason fans and the media have supposed there is a rivalry between the two is because both Messi and Ronaldo are on their own level, a cut above the rest of soccer players around the world. They are the only two players to score seven UEFA Champions League hat-tricks. Between them they have 9 Ballon D’ors, 5 for Messi and 4 for Ronaldo.
Cristiano Ronaldo himself stated, in 2016, that his rivalry with Messi “doesn’t exist,” saying that both players are fundamentally different with their own unique playing styles. Ronaldo said that he enjoys watching Messi, and excellent player himself. Ronaldo is tall and strong, a commanding presence on the pitch whenever he plays. In contrast, Messi is small and quick, dancing around the defense, creating opportunities and scoring goals whenever he can. Messi agreed with Ronaldo, saying that Messi and Ronaldo are not best friends off the pitch, but do have a normal relationship for two professional soccer players. Messi said he has “never fought with Cristiano” and Ronaldo stated the rivalry is all in “good spirit” and is a “good thing.”
The supposed rivalry between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, undoubtedly the two best soccer players of the last era, may not even exist at all, but something is for certain: the end is in sight for both players. Messi, at 30, and Ronaldo at 32, do not have much time left as professionals and will continue to dazzle fans with their amazing play for the next few years to come. Both players will go down in soccer history as some of the best of all time, each leaving his own mark on history.